Aims Paediatricians undertaking safeguarding work need ‘access to peer review, clinical supervision and emotional support in order to be confident and competent in this stressful and demanding area of work’1. We aimed to explore the availability and utility of peer review and other psycho-emotional support for paediatricians involved in safeguarding in the United Kingdom (UK).
Methods An online survey (October–December 2016) was distributed via British Association for Community Child Health enewsletter, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) website, RCPCH trainee representatives, the Child Protection Special Interest Group, named and designated doctors, and lead paediatricians in all health boards in our own deanery.
Results Of 111 respondents, 94% engaged in peer review, with 69% reporting it was available at least monthly. However, only 38% found the emotional/psychological support provided by peer review ‘very helpful’, and 15% considered peer review not helpful for this purpose. Free text comments included evidence of increased emotional distress caused by peer review. Common alternative sources of emotional support included discussions with colleagues (96%) or family and friends (81%). Formal psycho-emotional support was only available to a minority of respondents (debriefing 29%, drop-in sessions with psychologist/ counsellor 13%, group sessions with psychologist/counsellor 11%, regular 1:1 psychological supervision 6%). Looking to the future, the majority of respondents considered additional support structures would be helpful (debriefing 78%, drop in sessions with psychologist/counsellor 66%, group sessions with psychologist/counsellor 71%, regular 1:1 psychological supervision 53%). Only 2% of respondents felt it would not be helpful to access any of these.
Conclusion Peer review was widely available among respondents, but did not meet the emotional support needs of this group. Indeed, clinicians’ reliance on discussions with family and friends raises potential confidentiality concerns. The RCPCH recommendation that emotional support be readily accessible was not a reality for these paediatricians. Most respondents would value access to additional skilled support. This subject warrants wider debate nationally and locally to explore realistic solutions for greater support.
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